My Logitech Harmony 720 Harmony basically stopped working a few months ago. Thanks to Costco’s awesome return policy and my compulsive box-keeping, I was able to return it for a refund. It was annoying living without a universal remote to control all my home entertainment devices, so there was no doubt that I would get a replacement. I was pretty content with the 720 aside from the issues that occurred after almost one year of ownership. However, I decided not to go with it again because the idea of using RF technology was very appealing.
Although the Logitech Harmony 890 cost about twice as much as the 720, the ability to use RF to control devices sold me on it. After using it for a few months, I have no regrets. Being able to use RF means that I no longer need to point directly at the devices. Since some activities like watching TV involves turning on multiple devices, some devices might fail to get the infrared signal if the remote control is not pointed correctly toward all of the devices. Now, I don’t have to worry about where I point my remote as long as the extenders that the system uses are in place.
Additionally, some appliances and electrical adapters can work with Z-Wave technology. What I did was replace the regular light switch with a wireless-compatible wall switch that my remote could control remotely and wirelessly. With the wireless controlling of lights, the Harmony 890 has a concept that its non-RF brethren like the 720 didn’t have, scenes. For example, I like to watch DVDs with the lights out. When I click on Watch DVD, not only does it turn on the TV and dvd player, but it turns off the lights. That is because I created a scene with no lighting and assigned it to the DVD-watching activity. I have created “activities” that just control the light so that I can turn on or off the lights using my remote, independent of what I’m doing with my home entertainment system.
As awesome as this system is, it took some time and effort to get it set up. There was minimal documentation on how to get my remote to communicate to the Z-wave device(s). I’m pretty techy so I’m not sure if I would recommend this to someone who doesn’t have a lot of technological know-how and patience. Once it is set up, there is minimal effort extended. I might tweak a setting here and there, but they are usually so low priority that I don’t bother to sync the remote until there is something that I really need to add to the remote.
Another useful thing about this remote is that it makes it possible for someone besides myself to be able to use my home entertainment system. They just need to go to the Activities screen and select the desired activity.
Here’s a photo of the remotes for my home entertainment system, with the Harmony posed horizontally above the five remotes. The idea to have a photo of the remote controls that were being replaced was what inspired me to write this post.